Fitting neatly into the Christmas work party space, the immersive A Christmas Carol is a good excuse for a meal, with a cheerful dollop of Dickens on top.
Jack Witham’s Jacob Marley introduces us to the affair. We’re cast as spirits hired to spook the miserly Scrooge (Alexander Barclay) into changing his bah-humbug attitude to Xmas. You know the drill. It’s a fun, innovative setup for the immersive element, giving plenty of excuses for moments of interaction. Little excuse seems to be necessary, however, and we’re soon busting out the carols and cheering the haunting-with-a-purpose.
Kudos is due to Cait Corkery for her elegant set, which hides a few surprises that delight the audience and dust the experience with magic. It’s a credit to how well these work that they blend in and make the appearance of the essential ghosts appear easy.
The production gallops through the plot, getting us quickly and pleasantly onto the meal – a slap up Christmas feast, eaten family-style. As we break bread together, I enjoy the Christmas cheer. Along the table we introduce ourselves, get to know our neighbours, and feel the same sense of community that Scrooge doesn’t know he’s missing.
Catering partner (and London theme-dining favourite) Flavourology do an impressive job of delivering a full-on turkey dinner (and make sure you try the mutton pie), hot to several dozen hungry diners.
The only off note was the choice to launch into a joint rendition of Fairytale of New York. Christmas favourite it may once have been, but most now recognise how problematic its homophobic lyrics are. The offending line was edited out, deftly, by Barclay, but given the unavoidable risk with audience participation there’s no excuse for including it.
I’ll be honest, this production isn’t going to develop anyone’s understanding of Dickens, or reveal the true spirit of the holidays to someone who is resistant. Whilst with a full stomach and afterglow from a joyful gathering I am genuinely moved by moments of Scrooge’s transformation, the emphasis here is firmly on fun. Whitam and Barclay’s singing voices are put to good use (along with a few other musical treats up their sleeves!) and we leave uplifted, smiling and – importantly for the niche I’m sure their targeting – full.
Review by Ben Ross
A tale of ghouls, ghosts and – with your help – barrels of festive cheer. We join Marley over a sumptuous two course feast, and some potent potion to keep off the winter chill. Through parlour games, Christmas songs and a little spirited trickery, we must warm the heart of the bah-humbugging miser, everyone’s favourite festive misanthrope, Scrooge. A show about Christmas spirit, caring for those we love, and having a good old fashioned knees up couldn’t be a more perfect way to warm a cold winter’s evening.
A Christmas Carol
Performed by Alexander Barclay (Scrooge) and Jack Witham (Marley)
Writer Charles Dickens, lovingly bastardised by Alexander Wright
Director Tom Bellerby
Producers Hartshorn – Hook Productions
Performance Dates November 27 th 2019 – January 5 th 2020
Tuesday – Saturday, 7.15pm*
1pm matinees on Saturdays
6.00pm performance on Sundays**
Venue Scrooge’s Parlour, Immersive|LDN, 56 Davies Street, W1K 5HR